The cost of living in Kitwe has drastically increased to a record-breaking K5,159 for a family of five, becoming the country’s second most expensive city, according to the JCTR.

Data from the Jesuit Centre of Theological Reflection (JCTR) shows Kitwe’s cost of living leaped to an unprecedented K5,159 in August, the highest-ever recorded, since the inception of the JCTR’s Basic Needs Basket (BNB), from K4,564 recorded in July this year.

This means Kitwe on the Copperbelt Province has overtaken Ndola as the country’s second most expensive city to live in for a family of five, with Ndola’s BNB recorded for last month at K4,908.

A year-on-year comparison also shows that the cost of living for Kitwe in August last year was at K3,666 for a family of five, registering a near-K1,500 rise in August this year.

Lusaka still remains the most expensive city for a family of five with the capital city’s cost of living pegged at K5,402.31 last month from K5,256.29 recorded in July.

According to the JCTR, the drastic rise in the cost of living was triggered by a sustained increase in the average cost of essential commodities, such as kapenta, which saw prices skyrocket to K230 per Kg last month from K152 for the same quantity in July.

“Significant increases in prices were noted in kapenta, which increased by K78 from K152 in July to K230 in August per Kg, whilst a kilogramme of beans increased by K3 from K29 in July to K32 in August,” JCTR stated in a press statement released, Thursday, by its social & economic development programme officer, Chanda Paul Chileshe.

Although price reductions were recorded for other essential food stuffs like beef and tomatoes, JCTR, the renowned Catholic-­run organisation, lamented that the cost of living still remains way above affordable levels for ordinary Zambians.

“The JCTR is, however, concerned that despite reductions recorded in commodity prices such as tomatoes and onions, the cost of living has remained high and unaffordable for most households. The Centre is further dismayed that despite scoring a good harvest in the production of tomatoes and onions, most of the produce is going to waste. This is largely attributed to infrastructure constraints related to poor transport, storage, processing, packaging facilities and importation of tomatoes and onions on the market,” stated JCTR, who also reiterated their appeal to government to expedite promotion of value-addition in the country, among others.

The BNB normally takes into account the cost of living for a family of five across 15 major urban towns in the country.